Uniq said talks are ongoing over the restructuring of its pension scheme, as the convenience food group unveiled a 3.1% rise fourth-quarter sales.

Despite the harsh weather Christmas trading was “close to expectations”, Uniq said, with the performance helped by strong growth from its sandwich business. Full-year sales of food-to-go stood at £157m, up 13% on 2009.

Sales for its desserts business, which includes cottage cheese, were down 1.7% in the final quarter. Uniq is to stop producing cottage cheese this year and will focus its Evercreech operation entirely on specialist desserts.

Meanwhile, Uniq said detailed discussions were continuing with the Pension Regulator, the Pension Protection Fund and the trustee of its pension scheme over the equity swap Uniq proposed last year.

If approved, the move would see Uniq hand 90% of its shares to its pension scheme to help slash a deficit of £436m.

“Our overall performance for 2010 is broadly in line with our expectations, reflecting a stronger than expected performance in Food to Go and continuing losses in desserts,” said Uniq chief executive Geoff Eaton.

“Looking to 2011 we expect to make further progress, although rising commodity prices are adding to the pressure of an extremely tough marketplace.”

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